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    Lee Drake - Headshot - 3x4 - web optimized.jpg

    Lee Drake is President and CEO of OS-Cubed, Inc.  OS-Cubed is there to assist you when your computers cause more problems than they solve.  Their philosophy of creating a stable and secure environment upon which to build optimal solutions allows them to create applications that not only solve problems, but prevent them in the future.

    Lee Drake has extensive speaking experience.  He's spoken on topics such as computer security, programming best practices, building content managed websites, building online communities, virus and spyware prevention, and a variety of other computer-related topics.  As sponsor and author of the website Lee has built a world-wide following of users who rely on him and his co-authors to get up-to-date information on virus threats. In addition, Lee has participated in a number of discussion panels on wide-ranging business-related topics, including health insurance for small businesses, legislative issues for NYS businesses, workmen's comp, 240/241 reform, and Medicaid/Medicare reform.  He participated in a panel sponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton on the challenges of providing health care to small businesses

    As a member of the executive board for the Rochester Small Business Council Lee has worked hard to help NYS create an environment that is more friendly towards small businesses.  As a member of the economic development committee for the Rochester Business Alliance he's participated in assisting Rochester to grow into a competitive upstate NY city.  As a member of the board for the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management Lee has added extensive experience in the everyday issues of HR Management in the small business.  In addition, Lee serves on the advisory board for the Neighborhood of the Arts in southeast Rochester.

    As a member of the Rochester Professional Consultants Network Lee has spoken on panels ranging from computer solutions for small businesses, building an online presence for your consulting organization, web advertising, and search engine optimization, to the challenges of building a consulting organization.

    As 50% owner of Aztek Computer Solutions, Inc., Lee helped build a Rochester Top 100 company.  As President and CEO of OS-Cubed, Inc., Lee is well on the way to creating his next Top 100 company.

    In addition, Lee has participated extensively in the programs sponsored by The Executive Committee (TEC) now known as Vistage.  Lee is a graduate of Cornell University ALS School, a Certified Novell Engineer, a programmer, a Habitat for Humanity supporter, an avid Tournament Paintball player, and a fan of science fiction and fantasy books.  He also enjoys playing a wide variety of computer, card, and board games.

      600 spams over the weekend
    Location: BlogsLee's Blog    
    Posted by: Lee Drake 11/20/2006
    Over the weekend my various email accounts received over 650 spam messages. Of those only about 30 ended up in my inbox (approximately 4.6%). No good mail ended up being filtered. How did I achieve this, and why isn't everyone seeing these same results?

    Everyone hates spam - its many causes and challenges make filtering practically impossible - or is it?  I believe that good spam filtering can be achieved - and that with the right tools you will "see" a small percentage of the spam that is actually sent to you.  Let's take a look at how I set up my spam filters.

    Spam filtering can happen at 3 levels on a typical mail server.  The first level is the mail server itself.  By detecting that mail is coming from an illegitimate source the mail server can reject the mail.  It does this by using something called a "blacklist" which lists the ip addresses of known spammers.  This used to be very effective because spammers used servers - usually outside the country - that were at fixed known addresses to spread their evil throughout the land.  Now though spammers have given up on this - instead they rely on end users to distribute their mail for them - using a botnet.  A botnet is a network of computers that have been "coopted" or taken over by malware, worms or other methods.  These botnets mean that the spam you receive might come from any of millions of computers spread across the internet.  No listing of known spam sources would be a particular help, because as an ip appears on the listing the botnet just moves the spamsource to another ip address in the network.

    So the next level of spam filtering that happens on the server kicks in - statistical content filtering.  At this leve the content of the message itself is examined to see if it resembles other spam.  This worked ok - back when spam email was mostly text.  The problem is that it becomes difficult to see what is stuff that you might WANT to see vs stuff you don't want to see.  And spammers started salting their emails with a preponderance of random words to fool the filters into thinking the content was legitimate, including pasting sections of books into the content part of their messages.  At the server level statistical spam filtering is doomed to only catch a small percentage of the spam.  The reason for this is that if we server hosting companies set the statistical filter too tightly it starts to filter messages that our users think are really legitimate.  This can cause all sorts of trouble - users are much more upset about finding that a legit message has been filtered than that some spam has been let through.

    The next level of filtering - offered by some ISP's including OS-Cubed, offers the ability to create rules at the server that either discard or remove spam prior to it reaching your mailbox at work.  This usually occurs by taking the spam that the server has already labelled and discarding it or tossing it in a junk mail filter.

    But despite all this - over 500 of the 650 messages that came to me this weekend were headed for my inbox - so how did I cut that down to only 30?  I use Outlook 2003 - with the spam filter turned on.  Outlook versions older than 2003 (and all outlook express versions) have very poor and rudimentary spam filters.  Outlook 2003 on the other hand has an excellent spam filter that you can teach what is and is not good mail.  And it's filters are updated every month at the same time as the Microsoft Windows Updates occur (if you're signed up to update office as well as windows).

    So 533 of the 550 messages that actually hit my mailbox ended up in my junk mail folder in outlook.  And I had zero false positives - they were all really junk mail.

    So my recommendations are:

    • Find an isp that at least does rudimentary labelling of spam
    • Set some filters on the server end to reduce the amount of spam if possible - but set them loosely
    • Either use an email client like Outlook 2003 or some other client that has excellent filtering which is updated frequently, or get a product such as mailwasher to filter your mail.

    Good luck and have a happy Turkey Day!

    Copyright ©2006 Lee Drake
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    Comments (1)   Add Comment
    Re: 600 spams over the weekend    By Don Bishop on 11/23/2006
    Nice article, Lee. My biggest fear, one that you point out, is false positives in any spam filtering. I'm still learning how to get Outlook 2003 to do the best job it can. Thanks for your input.

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